I am struggling to score the hotel. When everything worked and you played 'the game' everything was superb.
Let me explain.
Upon arrival, we a couple in our mid/late twenties from England, were pleasantly surprised with the reception area it is very high spec and beautifully designed. The reception staff were lacking in English to a European standard which isn't great as it would have been nice to have had the processes or 'the games' explained to us.
No one explained upon arrival that if you want to eat at the A La Carte restaurants then you better get in line at 8:20am and stand there for 25minutes until the computer system opens and then play the lottery of whether their corrupt system will have already booked out some of the restaurants fully, even though you are first in line.
I will come back to this later...
So we arrived it was about 2am local time, we went to our room, very clean and very nicely decorated, mini-bar is included all inclusive and there was a menu for room service (also included midnight-6am as part of the all inclusive. I ordered a burger (wasn't nice) but still impressed with the 24hr room service speed, being inclusive etc.The Room was a standard non sea view as we wanted to find the cheapest deal. The quality of the room was very high as was the entire main building. We had a double shower & hair-drier in room. The lighting fixtures were pleasant and cohesive with the design of the hotel theme. The mini bar included a variety of non alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. The Main foyer is beautiful with a bar a huge chandelier and plenty of seating areas (this is very typical in luxury turkey hotels and worked well). Sometimes we sat outside the front entrance to smoke and use wifi at the same time - we think there is definitely room to improve the entertainment on this floor as it is such a beautiful area.
We had ran out of cigarettes (sorry none-smokers this bit is irrelevant) and decided to go down to one of the bars to buy some. They didn't sell them and told me 'no cigarettes now, shops closed', I tried again at reception to see if there was anywhere I could buy some- i got the same response. After an hour of grinding our teeth I was sat on the balcony and noticed that about 500yds away there was a petrol station. I walked there, it was open (cigarettes here, and at the shop opposite the hotel next to the pharmacy were both lots cheaper than the hotel approx 2/3rds of the price - neither shop were selling fake cigarettes).
We woke up the next morning and went for breakfast. Yummy it was fantastic - there is no difference between 'late breakfast' which finishes at 11am and normal 'breakfast' which finishes at 10am - couldn't work out why the room directory stated the two separately. The area for breakfast is HUGE which was catered for all lifestyle choices in breakfast. Breakfast had nearly everything you might want except obviously Pork as it is a Muslim country. It was all very tasty too - smoked salmon, various sausages, fruits, cereals, pancakes etc etc ..By everything I mean everything - you could even have Smirnoff Vodka with your orange juice if you wanted - we noticed this was a hit with some of the Russians.
They also gave us a little booklet upon arrival which had maps of the hotel including all amenities which are in the back pages - this was useful - the only think not stated on the map was the location of the 'detox bar' - we later found out this was in the spa area (basement level). If you arrive late as we did then I would recommend you go down to the basement as the 'Irish Bar - also called the Camelot Bar - was open until 8am and had hot food which was an alternative to room service and tasted nicer.Also very important as is the only area to where you can watch TV (Olympics) other than your room!
I then decided we would organise dinner for the evening - our plan was to try as many of the A La Carte restaurants as possible. We were pointed to the 'kiosks' - in reality these were two computers which at 11am on day one there was no queue. The reason for this as we later found out was that everyone else had queued at 8:30am. We were left with two options - the Turkish and the Greek. I decided when in Turkey , eat Turkish. I was at this point a bit peeved that the others were all full. I would later decide that the Turkish was probably the 2nd best meal I had there. The mixed BBQ was amazing and the mezze type foods for starter were great. This restaurant is based near the beach and is very romantic.
You must book you restaurants on the machine for every two days so on the Thursday we could not book for Friday as there was a "gala night" which was not explained to us. We had another food rigmarole because the computers just said 'closed' for each restaurant - I went to reception and said all the restaurants were closed on the computer, the reception worker said I should go and speak to guest services, they then sent me back to reception. Neither explained there was a Gala night. Later that day one of the animation team 'Zaz' really nice guy explained there was a Gala night. I later called reception from the room to ask if there was Gala night, again the response was 'no gala night', 'there is one every two weeks'. It was like they didn't know or care to explain what the hell was going on.. That said we just went down to the main restaurant and realised that the animation guy was correct and the reception and guest relations staff were just useless. They had a choice of many different foods and the atmosphere was great. This is the buffet style of eating which we usually hate but we had no problems with it. Later after the food there was the gala entertainment at the 'amphitheatre' it should be named 'the stage' because it isn't an amphitheatre at all. They finished the show which was fairly entertaining with some very nice fireworks.relating this to food I think it is apt to mention that the stage area is also where you eat lunch as a snack bar - definitely not the best area for us in terms of quality of food and we just had tuna salad/ pasta type dishes everyday. The amphitheatre/snack bar area was more for families with young children.
The Meat and wine 'Da Vinci' restaurant was lovely and was situated in the basement with the other A La Carte restaurants. The theme was cold starter warm starter soup salad and main followed by dessert. All the food and service was to a very high standard - I cannot remember everything we had but do remember something very funny as we both ordered steak for main which was great and I had a red chilli which I thought was going to be a regular capsicum but it blew my socks off!!
For lunch on Sundays they offer food in the main restaurant which was great to get away from the heat and have a little more choice for lunch. I opted for sushi and salad which made me feel fresh for the rest of the day!
The next evening we went to the international restaurant 'Fusion' which is the largest of all the rest of the A La Cartes and had the best atmosphere of all the rest. The food was very mixed and interesting choices made which could rival a 5 star restaurant in London. The theme was as above cold starter, warm starter, soup, salad, main, dessert style. They also offer you better wines here.
On the Monday we went to Zuma the chinese. This was started with a sushi appetiser to share please note that the sushi is good quality but there is no sashimi on offer which is such a shame. We had nice starters starters and an amazing main course of Duck pancakes - possibly the best presented Chinese main course I have had in a while.
On the Tuesday we tried the Greek Helena restaurant which was again fantastic and healthy with Greek salads, octopus and seabass. The desert was impressive with dry ice spouting out of it!!
For the final day we went to the "elusive" Tapenyaki which we had problems booking via the machine all week despite being first in line which felt corrupt and guest relations were never available to sort this. Finally before the end of the holiday we kicked up such a fuss with the manager to be able to get this. The chef was impressive and he was just as kind and nice as all the other waiters. We actually probably would not rate the choice in food here as much as other others after all that fuss but it was very entertaining and kids would love it!
Overall I think that there is some problem with guest relations because they either have a lack of skilled cooks for the A La carte. This is due to the fact that the restaurants appear fully booked every night but never are full!!!!
Beach or Pools:
We recommend not to use a sunbed on the beach unless you do not mind sitting in the shade and far away from a bar. It was much more convenient to be on the Jeti where there is a bar but please note you must wake up very early to get a bed here as big groups come and take them and there are not many available. We again had to play this game and get one at 7am; even though the rules stated this was not allowed it was the only way because nobody enforced them.
For the Pools we found the relax pool the easiest. You do not have to wake up very early to get a bed, you are near a bar and you have waitresses on Rollerblades come around every half hour or so. For families you might have to wake early to get a spot at the other pools with kids.
The entertainment and other stuff
We enjoyed the gala night so much we decided after a few drinks to even go to the nightclub - had a great time and you can smoke! The DJ was OK. He obviously has a limit to what he is allowed to play though. We went on our last evening too where the animation did some breakdancing which was good after a few drinks I gave him my phone because i was desperate for him to play a few of my favourite songs which everyone seemed to enjoy!
Another great area was the Jeti at night to relax and drink - however they did not provide music here at night which is a shame. Near the relax pool there is a Shisha bar and large seating area which we feel could of been busier if they had TV screens and more of a bar atmosphere too.
We went for a walk around the hotel and located ourselves at the Relax Pool. Lots of free beds here everyday and no children really. If some showed up security seemed to analyse their behaviour and remove if required. There were multiple (I would say 10 at any given time) waitresses on roller skates going round taking drink orders. If you needed a drink faster - which in 44C in the shade you probably will the bar is a 30 second walk away.
In the basement of the hotel is a shop selling cigarettes, lilos, toiletries etc. These are expensive by Turkish standards but very convenient as you need to pass them to get to the back of the hotel where the pools/ beach and majority of outdoor areas are located. Also on this level is a leather goods shop (selling fake handbags, belts etc) a jewellery shop selling fake watches, jewellery, Pandora etc.. you will soon learn that Turkey is the land of the fake items. Every shop we visited in Turkey (apart from when we took a taxi to TerraCity) sold fake goods. Also on the basement level were all A La Carte restaurants (share the same entrance) except the Turkish one, the Spa, the gym and the nightclub. I would say haggle everything everywhere, you can pay Euro's or Turkish everywhere too.
If you want to use Wifi just connect to one of the routers 'imperial 1' for instance and put your room number as username and surname as password. It is poor pretty much everywhere except the ground floor level, but you may get some on your balcony or by the pool. If you are on O2 they will allow you 50mb of data for about £30 instead of the £6mb they test you to tell you. (just an FYI)
Go here, you will enjoy it.
Please make sure you complain to the manager about the annoyance of booking the restaurants because I would love them to change it before I think about returning again.
I would have given a 5* review if the reception staff were better trained, the restaurant booking system was resolved and the information provided on arrival was better. Also wifi needs improving, more tv's at the bars for sporting events would be useful and some music playing at a bar rather than just in the nightclub.. there was never any atmosphere in any of the bars which was a let down.
The food was the best some of the best I have had and the use of flavours, textures and portion sizes were all highly commendable.
I would say if you are a young group don't go, if you are a couple or family it is going to be more fun.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.